With well over 250 attendees this years P&P Summit is the best attended I have seen so far. I was fortunate to participate in two presentations – the first talk was on SecPAL which I believe was well received, and the second was a discussion with myself, Dragos Manolescu, Wojtek Kozaczynski and Ade Miller on the future of patterns.
As you may recall the 4 of us worked on a paper called “The Growing Divide in the Patterns World” for an IEEE special on design patterns. Our article summarized results from a survey about the relevance of patterns for several hundred developers. One of the not surprising (or perhaps not unsurprising) results that we saw from the paper was that for many people simply with including patterns in tooling was sufficient and that they did not see significant value in traditional narrative based patterns.
So, with our goal being to find a controversial subject that would encourage audience participation (and perhaps more importantly) provide feedback that will drive P&P’s future investments in the pattern space we decided to use the P&P Summit as a forum for discussion about the extent to which P&P should share patterns via books or Pattern Share – or whether they should focus purely on including patterns inside factories.
Myself and Dragos were in the red corner, advocating that patterns should first be written in the narrative form, whilst Wojtek and Ade took the blue corner arguing that this format is irrelevant and that the majority of non-academic folk only care about productivity and tooling. The discussion started off with a curve ball. I had expected Dragos to have a strong opening statement that would incite hatred amongst much of the audience, instead he punted to me – leaving me to take the rubber bullets from the audience (Keith Please had armed the audience with toy guns so as to shoot people that they disagreed with).
Rather than making Wojtek and Ade’s job way too easy, I decided to argue that tooling should only be based on patterns, and that tooling based on patterns was inevitable. As such I argued that it was critical not to lose site for the need for crisp architectural guidance articulated in pattern form that can be shared in books, web pages and hopefully organized dynamically on resources such as Pattern share.
I have to say that the discussion was fantastic mainly because the audience got so involved in the discussion. We had advocates on both sides of the audience. Some common themes discussed (liberal paraphrasing) included:
Many enterprise developers do not care about design patterns – they just want to do their job
Enterprise architects have a hard time communicating the value in patterns to their development teams
Patterns do in fact play a critical role in application architecture and P&P should continue to create and publish patterns independently of tooling
People do not want to have to download factories to determine if there are patterns that are relevant to their problem
Patterns should be consistent across programming platforms
and much, much more…
I have some additional thoughts on the subject which I will share in the coming days as well – but first I wanted to see if we can’t get some additional discussion going.
So, if you were in the discussion, feel free to post additional thoughts, or if you weren’t there it would be great to hear your thoughts on this very important topic… To what extent should P&P invest in publishing patterns independently of tooling such as Factories – and would you like to see a reincarnation of the Pattern Share repository (friendlier UI etc)?